By Kim Duke NETA & AFAA Certified Trainer

Exercise offers a wealth of benefits. When you exercise you are giving your body that much-needed ability to move and burn calories, increase muscle mass, rev up your metabolism and increase your sex drive. And whether you want to believe it or not, exercise actually energizes you. But, one of the greatest benefits of consistent exercise is injury prevention.

No matter what age you are, studies have proven over and over that an exercise program that includes cardio, strength training and stretching will not only help to strengthen you but stabilize you as well.

There are two classes of injuries: traumatic and cumulative.

Traumatic injuries are those accidents that happen in sport or daily life, such as rolling your ankle on a trail run or crashing your bike on the morning commute. Cumulative injuries relate to tissue damage that occurs over time as a result of repetitive strain. These types of injuries creep up and may be a function of poor posture, faulty movement patterns or improper training.

The best practice for preventing injury is General Physical Preparedness (GPP). GPP training is the first concept to understand when talking about injury prevention, especially for trauma. It means maintaining a baseline of fitness so that you can respond to physical challenges without harm. The following list has the five main GPP areas you need to improve:

Flexibility: Ensure that all major joints, including your spine, have full range of motion and sufficient muscle length.

Strength: Keep all large muscles and surrounding stabilizers conditioned and ready to react at a moment’s notice.

Agility: How is your reaction time and general coordination? If properly honed, you can avoid crashing your bike as you swerve to avoid a pedestrian. Run an agility ladder or tire array twice a month minimally.

Balance: Can you stay vertical over uneven terrain or when carrying an awkwardly shaped object? Single leg medicine ball tosses with a partner are a great balance challenge. Do three sets times 60 seconds on each leg.

Power: Do you have the speed to move out of harm’s way in a hurry? Better hope so if you need to dodge a vehicle while on your morning run. A burpee plus a 15-yard sprint is an excellent combo for power generation. Do five in a row at the end of your next workout.

Combining these five training techniques will go beyond being beneficial for injury prevention. These techniques will also create a solid and strong athlete, and help you function more safely in everyday life.

If by chance you are reading this article and you are presently injured or rehabbing from an injury, then you’ll want to consult with a doctor before attempting these exercises — and read my next article for more information.